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Collaboration with MIT offers students the opportunity to learn from top industry leaders for supply chain management


John Fowler, Motorola Professor of International Business at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and faculty director of the online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management.

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July 12, 2019

Last month, Arizona State University announced the launch of its online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management. The degree program, hosted on the edX platform, serves as a unique credit pathway between ASU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stacking up the credits earned through MIT’s Supply Chain Management MicroMasters to the full degree program offered by ASU. 

ASU’s online master’s degree program will help prepare a highly technical and competent global workforce for advancement in supply chain management careers across a broad diversity of industries and job functions. Offered in collaboration with MIT, students enrolled in the program will gain an in-depth understanding of the role they can play in an enterprise supply chain and in determining overall strategy.

John Fowler, Motorola Professor of International Business at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, faculty director of the online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program and former department chair for supply chain management, recently spoke with ASU Now about the new online master’s degree program, the uniqueness of the program and the benefits students receive through the collaboration with MIT.

Question: What can students expect from the new online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management?

Answer: This program, which was launched in collaboration with MIT, is meant to help make students familiar with the theory of supply chains. Additionally, the program also teaches current best practices for supply chain management within a variety of industries, including both manufacturing and service industries.

Q: What benefit do students receive through this credit pathway program?

A: Students who enroll in this degree program receive the benefit of learning from both MIT and ASU faculty. MIT is extremely well respected in this field and is currently ranked as the No. 2 graduate program in supply chain management, with ASU ranked as No. 3. So students have the opportunity to learn from two of the top three universities in the country for this program. The MIT portion of this degree is quantitative based, with the classes focused between supply chain management and supply chain engineering. The ASU coursework, as with many of our degree programs, really values talking about and discussing the practical application of the theory. 

This degree program will especially be of interest to those drawn to supply management, which is one of the four pillars of supply chain management, and is focused on sourcing the raw materials needed to produce a good or service in order to deliver it to a customer. The other three pillars include operations management, logistics management and sustainability. 

In terms of the collaboration with MIT, our two programs provide the best possible learning experience to the student. The supply chain management department at ASU is known for the supply management pillar. In fact, ASU has a joint research effort with CAPS Research, a nonprofit research center for procurement and supply management leadership, and students enroll at ASU because of this aspect. This is an area where we will compliment what MIT does, as their program is more focused on operations and logistics management.

Q: What are some of the key learning objectives that students who enter this program will walk away with?

A: They key learning objectives will be understanding the end-to-end supply chain. In addition to classes on supply, operations and logistics management, our program will also include sustainability coursework and a business analytics class. This last class is becoming an important aspect of establishing a career as a supply chain management professional.

Q: What type of impact does ASU’s collaboration with MIT and edX have on both current and potential students for this degree program? Does the fact that this program is hosted on the edX platform expand its reach?

A: This degree program provides an excellent opportunity for students who go through the MIT program to have a pathway to complete their master’s degree online. Since it involves two highly ranked programs and a convenient platform like edX, it should increase the number of students completing both (i.e., one nicely feeding into the other). The fact that the complementarity is built on the quantitative foundation of the micromasters and strengthened through the application-oriented degree with a strong focus on procurement, operations, logistics and sustainability makes the degree unique.

Another impact of this collaboration is the cost benefit to students. Learners who apply to and are accepted into ASU will be coming into the MS in Supply Chain Management having already earned 12 of the 30 credits they need to graduate, which they are able to earn from MIT for only $1,080. The 18 additional credits from ASU are offered for $1,000 per credit, meaning students are able to walk away with a master’s degree in supply chain management for less than $20,000 — to compare, a degree like this can sometimes cost upwards of $30,000 or more.

Lastly, students who complete this program will have taken courses from some of the top faculty in this field, having completed coursework from both MIT and ASU. Additionally, with both aspects of this program offered online, students will never need to travel to campus, making it accessible to individuals both domestically and internationally.

Q: What should learners know if they are interested in this degree program?

A: The supply chain management industry is moving in the direction of requiring business analytics skills, so that will be key for professionals as they work towards long term success. As mentioned previously, this is a skill set that ASU is providing to our students versus skills they might have learned just 10 years ago. This also means that those currently in industry may have to retool and our program provides these learners and current professionals the complete end-to-end supply chain and current best practices. This will give them the skills they need to be successful now and in the future.

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